WC delegations share opinion on urban boundary, Gold Belt

CITY HALL – Several West Carleton community members took the opportunity to share their opinion on land designation and the proposed Gold Belt during this week’s joint Planning and Agriculture and Rural Affairs (ARAC) committees meeting to consider what rural lands will become urban under the new Official Plan.

The two committees spent all of Monday, Jan. 25 and much of Tuesday, Jan. 26 listening to more than 40 public delegations before recommending what lands will be brought inside Ottawa’s urban boundary, as part of the growth management strategy council adopted last May. The committee is working on coming up with a recommendation to identify 270 hectares (about the size of the Beaverbrook community) of rural land from parcels initially rated category 2 lands to be included in the urban boundary.

One of three rural parcels being considered as a ‘new community area’ lies in West Carleton in the South March area along Old Second Line Road.

The meeting also discussed the idea of establishing a Gold Belt, made up of prime agricultural land that will act as a protection of agricultural resources and “ensure food security in this region.”

A map of South March
South March, one of the pieces of rural land the joint committees considered for a new community. Screengrab

The report also recommends adding to Ottawa’s supply of vacant lands to accommodate industrial-related jobs. Staff recommend adding 140 hectares near Highway 417 at Carp Road and near Highway 416 at Barnsdale Road.

City staff took meeting attendees through a description of each rural area providing the pros and cons behind adding each parcel to the urban boundary.

One of the major drawbacks of the parcel just west of Old Second Line Road is it would need servicing and its location would create “high servicing costs.”

City staff would have to update the planned transit strategy to provide OC Transpo service to the currently unserved area.

One advantage of the South March location was its proximity to a “high employment area.”

City staff seemed to consider the parcel located at Leitrim east as a property ripe for assimilation in to the urban boundary.

“It has a lot of potential in terms of developing future growth,” staff said.

Several West Carleton residents and organizations took the opportunity to speak to the joint committee members which includes Coun. Eli El-Chantiry who chairs ARAC.

Carp Road Corridor Business Improvement Area (BIA) board member Wayne French and executive director Roddy Bolivar were the first delegation to speak at the virtual meeting. The BIA has been lobbying for years to extend services and infrastructure to Ottawa’s largest light industrial business park. The service would be a big benefit to the some 300 businesses already there as well as attracting new business to the area.

“Each of the reports before you today speaks to the value of the corridor in Ottawa and one statistic stands out,” French told the joint committees Monday (Jan. 25). “The corridor makes up fully 20 per cent of all the employment land in Ottawa. That’s all the urban and the rural employment land. If today’s recommendations support economic development, the benefits will be seen to the largest scale in the corridor.”

French felt the BIA and its members deserved more input on to the reports and recommendations being presented at the meeting. French said the city should have given more consideration to “strategic servicing” as it relates to economic benefit.

“We are here today in support of the reports and to again offer to partner and work with the city to promote light industry and manufacturing in Ottawa,” French said.

Bolivar also took the opportunity to lobby for services to the BIA.

“A priority of the BIA and we consider a priority which can be justified through a sustainability lens and the Five Big Moves, is extension of municipal water into the corridor,” Bolivar told the committee. “The city has already made the same conclusion – the report in front of you makes the case that using the corridor to provide new urban employment land satisfies the Five Big Moves.”

Bolivar requested the committee initiate an economic development strategy for the light industry sector.

“This is the sector that will literally build Ottawa,” Bolivar said. “We feel when you have 20 per cent of your eggs in one basket, you should have a plan for that basket.”

Bolivar says he has repeatedly heard the story of the cost of servicing the corridor.

“If there is a piece of land that is not a challenge to service, it’s already been developed,” he said. “Have these costs been compared to the economic benefit? This is the sector that will grow.”

South March resident Stephanie Morris also spoke, concerned about ordinance blasting by the Department of National Defence in the area. Murray Chow also spoke, representing the Carp Road landowners.

Twenty-nine-year Carp resident Judy Makin also presented to the joint committee. She was in favour of the Gold Belt.

“I want to commend the staff for the Gold Belt idea – hallelujah,” she said.

Makin, speaking as a private citizen, has served on several community associations, and has worked with Coun. El-Chantiry as well as former councillor Marianne Wilkinson on the Public Advisory committee to develop the community design plan for the Kanata North Urban Expansion project.

“I learned more than I ever wanted to know about planning an urban expansion,” she said.

Makin wanted to speak about the proposed category 1 and 3 urban expansion lands in South March. Makin believed the category 1 land along both sides of March Road west to Old Second Line Road would be a “gateway of servicing” for the category 3 lands being proposed as the new community in South March.

“Category 1 plus 3 combined would ultimately result in a massive new urban community that would further increase by 300 per cent the size of the already approved Kanata North urban expansion that is already approved for 3,000 homes serving 8,000 people,” Makin said.

Makin feels the land “should not be studied any further.”

“Finally, I have to tell you South March has taken ‘one for the team’ time after time,” Makin said. “We’ve witnessed the sprawl of Kanata’s northern growth into Class 1 farmland and beautiful natural areas for decades. It’s time to say no to any further growth in South March. I support my councillor’s motion to remove these parcels from further discussion.”

Old Second Line Road resident John Cooper wanted to see the land in his area be classified as category 1, not 3.

“This land is not agricultural land,” he said. “It’s very rocky.”

He believes it’s time the land become part of the urban boundary.

“Good urban planning in the past has protected my property in readiness for the current development need,” Cooper said. “It is unreasonable to further delay the inclusion of these lands given the land requirements identified now, and the historical reservation of this land for this very purpose.”

Of the options staff presented, the joint committee directed staff to do a focussed analysis of a new satellite community east of Leitrim and west of Carlsbad Springs, with Algonquin land interests, referred to as Tewin – the Algonquin word for home.

The committees also approved further protecting agricultural lands by establishing a Gold Belt outside the urban boundary, which would protect more than 53,000 hectares from development, making it 3.5 times bigger than even the Greenbelt.

“Named to reflect harvest colours, the proposed Gold Belt includes agricultural resource lands, natural areas and mineral aggregate resource areas,” city staff said. “Together, they create an additional boundary for communities like Barrhaven, Riverside South, Stittsville and Orléans.”

With more robust intensification goals and rules requiring minimum densities, this Gold Belt would be an additional policy tool to limit outward growth in Ottawa for the rest of the century. Leapfrogging over the Gold Belt would be prohibited. Existing lands between the Greenbelt and the Gold Belt meet Ottawa’s immediate growth needs.

Recommendations from the joint committee meeting will rise to council on Wednesday, Feb. 10. The new Official Plan is expected to be adopted by council on Oct. 27 with ministerial approval coming in February, 2022.